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Full text of "White House Gardens and Grounds"

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UNIVERSITY Of bcUKGIA 

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Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

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http://archive.org/details/whitehousegarden002004 



THE WHITE HOUSE 

WASH I NGTON 



Welcome to the White House Gardens! 

These beloved White House grounds have been treasured for more than two 
centuries by presidents and their families, White House staff, and visitors. 
This inviting sanctuary owes its present beauty to the vision, green thumbs, 
and persistent nurturing of the many families and gardeners who have lived 
and worked here. 

Your tour will take you through a rich and colorful history -- over grounds 
dreamed of by George Washington, defined by Thomas Jefferson, drained and 
filled by Ulysses S. Grant, and enriched with color and cover by many 
caretakers through the years. 

Within the boundaries of these l8-plus acres, treaties have been signed, 
wedding vows exchanged, Easter eggs rolled, T-ball games and other sports 
played, solitude enjoyed, and countless daily gardening tasks performed. Here 
the American story continues to unfold, through acts both grand and simple. 

Nearly every presidential family has contributed something to this special 
place. For example, President Woodrow Wilson's wife Ellen planted the first 
roses in the West Garden; President John Kennedy expanded the Rose Garden 
to accommodate outdoor ceremonies; and Mrs. Lyndon Johnson reconfigured 
the East Garden to feature seasonal flowers and named it for Jacqueline 
Kennedy. 

The White House gardens reflect the delight of a new season, as summer 
blossoms give way to the orange, yellow, blue and red of chrysanthemums, 
asters and salvia. As the splendid colors of fall bless our nation's capital, 
President Bush and I are delighted that you are here today to share the beauty. 
We wish you a most enjoyable visit! 







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The grounds, groves, and extensive plantings at the White House 
compose the oldest continually maintained landscape in the 
United States. Although it is situated in the heart of the city, when 
one is in the garden's midst, it seems far removed from the noise of 
automobiles and the rush of busy capital life. The garden is open to 
the public two times a year, on dates in April and October, carefully 
calculated to coincide with the peak weekends of spring and fall. 

John Adams, second president, and in 1800 the first occupant 
of the White House, ordered a garden "turned up" in the fall before 
he arrived, hoping to enjoy early vegetables. Defeated within months 
by Thomas Jefferson, he left before his garden was green. Jefferson 
made plans for planting native trees in the grounds and devised 
winding driveways and mass plantings of rhododendron and other 
American shrubbery. Ironically, however, it was John Adams's son, 
John Quincy Adams, who in the 1820s formally established a gar- 
dening program at the White House. Early in the morning the 
younger Adams liked to dig in the flowerbeds and claimed in his 
diary to have planted over a thousand trees here before his time came 
to move. 

Andrew Jackson, Adams's successor, continued and expanded 
the gardening program, completing gardens for kitchen and plea- 
sure, as well as an orangery, where healthful fruits matured in the 
cold months. Every June the Jackson Magnolia grandiflora, planted 
by him beside the South Portico, bursts into perfumed bloom, com- 
memorating the man history remembers as Old Hickory. 

In the 19th century the White House garden provided only 
limited family privacy. The grounds on the north were open every 
day. Tourists and business callers walked up a fenced driveway and 
entered as they might in any friend's house. Lincoln delivered sev- 
eral memorable speeches from the window over the front door, with 
several thousand listeners crowded below. The south grounds were 
more private; yet for many years the public went there weekly to 
hear the Marine Band play KB. Carpenter, visiting the White House 
during the Civil War to paint President Lincoln's portrait, remem- 
bered that during these concerts, Lincoln liked to stretch out on the 
Blue Room sofa and listen to the music through the closed shutters. 

More typically the south grounds have been exclusively for 
the president, his family, and his guests. Here at springtime garden 
parties long ago, white parasols and straw hats bobbed among the 



COMMEMORATIVE PLANTINGS 



1. Purple Beech - George BvsH (1991) 

2. White Dogwood - Bill & Hillary Clinton (1996) 

3. White Dogwood - Bill & Hillary Clinton (1995) 

4. Patmore Ash - George BvsH (1989) 

5. Northern Red Oak- DwiGHT D.Eisenhower (1959) 

6. Eastern Redbud - George Bush (1990) 

7. Little Leaf Linden - George Bush & Queen Elizabeth II 

8. W/V/ow' Oflit - Ronald Reagan (1988) 

9. Jacqueline Kennedy Garden (1965) 

10. Southern Magnolia (2) - Andrew Jackson (1830) 

11. Saucer Magnolia (4) - John F. Kennedy (1962) 

12. Rose Garden (1913) 

13. W;7/ozi; Ofl/c - Lyndon B. Johnson (2964) 

14. Little Leaf Linden - George W. & Laura Bush (2003) 

15. Little Leaf Linden - Bill Clinton (1993) 

16. VV/7;fe OflA: - Herbert Hoover (1931) 

17. Pin Oak - Dwight D. Eisenhower (1958) 

18. Cedar of Lebanon - Jimmy Carter (1978) 



(1991) 



Tour Exits 
Grounds Here 




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Tour Enters 
Grounds Here 



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Cutleaf Silver Maple - George W. & Laura Bush (2001) 

White Dogwood (3) - Hillary Rodham Clinton (1994) 

Children's Garden - Lyndon B. Johnson (1969) 

American Elm - Bill & Hillary Clinton (1993) 

Japanese Maple - Frances Folsom Cleveland (1893) 

Japanese Maple - Rosalynn Carter (1978) 

Wliite Oak - Herbert Hoover (1931) 

Willow Oak - Bill & Hillary Clinton (1993) 

American Elm - John Q. Adams (1826, replaced by Barbara Bvsh 1991 

Southern Magnolia - Franklin D. Roosevelt (1942) 

Southern Magnolia - Warren G. Harding (1922, replaced 1947) 

Wliite Oak - Franklin D. Roosevelt (1935) 

Scarlet Oak - Benjamin Harrison (1889) 

Reel Mfl/j/t' - Jimmy Carter (1977) 

Wliite Saucer Magnolia (2) - Nancy Reagan (1982) 

English & American Boxwood - Harry S. Truman (1952) 

American Elm - Betty Ford (1975) 

Fern Leaf Beech - Lady Bird Johnson (1968) 

Fern Leaf Beech - Patricia Nixon (1972) 

Sugar Maple - Ronald Reagan (1984) 



= Not Available For Viewing. 



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flowering dogwood. The president and first lady received on the 
South Portico, its iron railings abloom bright yellow with the Lady 
Banksia rose. In fall the glory of the maples, scarlet oaks, elms, and 
many other trees attracts a president from his labors for a break out- 
doors in crisp air and warm sun. 

The White House landscape is enhanced by the gardener's art 
to seem natural, in an idealized sense. Experts groom the grand old 
trees to preserve their beauty and encourage the new ones in shapes 
and forms to suit the overall design concept. The earth itself has 
been shaped to give the impressions of both rolling and sprawling 
areas, increasing the sense of surprise as one goes from one part to 
the other. Spread over with a carpet of lush, green lawn, the man- 
made terrain has the effect of meadows, bordered by deep forests. 

Only two formal gardens ornament the White House land- 
scape, the Rose Garden to the west of the house proper, and the East 
Garden, also called the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden. They are the 
work of a succession of well-known gardening experts through the 
last century, notably Beatrix Farrand, who designed the original East 
Garden, and George Burnap, designer of the first Rose Garden, both 
in 1913 and 1914 for Ellen Axson Wilson (Mrs. Woodrow Wilson); 
and Perry Wheeler and Rachel Lambert Mellon, who restored and 
enhanced both gardens during the John F. Kennedy administration, 
bringing them to their present design. Protected in early bloom by 
the sun-warmed stones of the house, the east and west gardens 
abound in flowers spring, summer, and fall, and as for winter, Mrs. 
Mellon assured that "Even in snow the classical patterns of the 
hedges and upward thrust of the bare, silvery trees brings beauty 
here." 

Among the great presidential gardeners who came after John 
Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson was Millard Fillmore, who 
engaged the celebrated horticulturist and author Andrew Jackson 
Downing to redesign the grounds. President Ulysses S. Grant gave 
free rein to a major landscaping program, even as his wife, Julia Dent 
Grant, closed the south grounds entirely to the public, so her 
youngest boys Buck and Jesse could ride their velocipedes there 
undisturbed. The two round pools with their fountains in the north 
and south grounds were introduced by Grant in the mid-1870's. 
Today they are surrounded by colorful plantings seasonally, includ- 
ing tulips in the spring and memorable red salvia in the summer. 

If President Grant's south grounds were off-limits, his succes- 



sor Rutherford B. Hayes thought otherwise, and when the Congress 
in 1878 canceled the traditional Easter Monday custom of children 
rolling their Easter eggs down steep Capitol Hill, Hayes invited the 
banished young folk to bring their Easter baskets to his house. The 
slope was not as steep, but the day proved hilarious. Easter Egg 
rolling has been held in the White House grounds ever since, attract- 
ing today some twenty-five thousand youngsters. 

Twentieth-century White House figures after Mrs. Wilson 
who took special interest in the garden included President Franklin 
D. Roosevelt. What you see today is the long shadow of Roosevelt's 
reconsideration of the grounds. Two issues faced him: first, accom- 
modating heightened security surrounding the president; second, 
clearing a view to the south. Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., of the well- 
known Massachusetts landscape firm, met the challenge. The con- 
cept he produced still guides the White House garden today. On the 
north Olmsted envisioned keeping the tree-shaded "front yard,'' as 
it had always been, while on the south he devised a long, elegant 
vista. Privacy and security were assured by grading along the sides 
to create berms and planting more trees, which resulted in the pre- 
sent flanking groves. The center was divested of many obscuring 
trees, and today's grand, open sweep of lawn resulted. 

Tucked away in the White House garden are evidences every- 
where of family use and enjoyment. Lady Bird Johnson (Mrs. 
Lyndon B. Johnson) created the compelling Children's Garden, 
which you will see, a quiet, kid-scale retreat with fish pool and deep 
shade. Some of the paving stones are in fact bronze castings of hand 
and foot prints of grandchildren of presidents over the past thirty 
years. Nearby is the tennis court. Notice the ribbon of pavement 
around the south driveway: it is a cushioned running track! Not far 
from the southward bow of the Oval Office is the putting green. 

An old custom at the White House is the planting of com- 
memorative trees to represent each president while in office. The 
trees are labeled and keyed on your map. Their profusion of genus 
and species and their varying girths capture the rhythms of histori- 
cal continuation here at the President's House. This garden is a liv- 
ing thing, no less than the restless grass in your yard or the placid 
cactus in your flowerpot. Like the White House itself, the garden 
and all the green evidences of its rich past remind us that our system 
of government prevails, yet is able to change as life and habitation 
may decree. 



UMIUERSITY OF GEORGIA LIBRARIES 

The Uhite House Gardens and Gro 
J84: I 29.2:U 58/10/2004 



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